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Farha v. Silva

May 6, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Wunderlich United States Magistrate Judge


(Doc. 35)

Plaintiff Mauwai Farha ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano, California. However, the events in Plaintiff's complaint took place while he was incarcerated at California State Prison, Corcoran in Corcoran, California ("CSP-Corcoran"). Plaintiff is suing under section 1983 for the violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff names B. Silva, V. Pierce, Swain, Banks, Wimbly, Williams, Riddle, and John Doe as defendants. For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint states cognizable claims against Defendants and service of the complaint is appropriate.

I. Screening Requirement

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious," that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

II. Background

A. Procedural Background

The Original Complaint in this action was filed on February 6, 2006. (Doc. #1.) The Original Complaint was screened on January 13, 2009. (Doc. #22.) Plaintiff was ordered to either file an amended complaint or to notify the court of his willingness to proceed only on the claims found to be cognizable. On February 18, 2009, a Findings and Recommendation was issued recommending that the action be dismissed for Plaintiff's failure to obey the January 13 screening order in a timely fashion. (Doc. #23.) On February 20, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Extension of Time to file a response. (Doc. #24.) Plaintiff's motion was granted on February 26, 2009. (Doc. #25.) After additional extensions, (Doc. #26, 27, 28, 31, 32, 34,) Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint on April 23, 2009. (Doc. #35.) The court vacated its February 18 Findings and Recommendations recommending dismissal on May 1, 2009. (Doc. #38.) This action proceeds on Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint.

B. Factual Background

On May 5, 2004, while Plaintiff was housed in the administrative segregation ("Ad-Seg") section of CSP-Corcoran, Plaintiff was removed from his cell by Defendants Swain, Banks and Pierce. Plaintiff was informed that Defendant Silva and lieutenant M. M. Miller wanted to speak with him. Plaintiff was placed in a holding cell and ordered to strip down. While Plaintiff was undressed, Defendants Swain and Banks were laughing at Plaintiff, refused to give any of his clothes back, and walked away. Soon after, Defendant Pierce walked by the holding cage and laughed at Plaintiff while commenting: "Ha ha you look like those Iraqis in that prison!" (Compl. 4.) Fifteen minutes later, correctional officer Scott came by and gave Plaintiff his boxers. Several minutes later, Plaintiff was handcuffed and placed back in his assigned cell. Plaintiff asked the escorting correctional officers to remove his handcuffs. The correctional officers stated "fuck you" and left.

Plaintiff was left in his cell with his boxers and a state lunch. Plaintiff alleges that he was in excruciating pain because his hands were swollen (presumably from the handcuffs) so Plaintiff stuffed his lunch in the toilet and caused a flood. When the water reached the sergeant's office, Defendant Silva came by. Plaintiff informed him that Defendants Swain and Banks left the handcuffs on him and walked away. Defendant Silva responded by saying that he did not know that they did that. Plaintiff informed Defendant Silva that he needed to see the Medical Technical Assistant ("MTA") because his hands were swollen. Defendant Silva told Plaintiff he would get Plaintiff medical attention and left.

Twenty minutes later, Defendants Silva, Swain, Banks, and Pierce came back and removed Plaintiff from his cell. Plaintiff's cell was then searched. When Plaintiff returned to his cell, he noticed that his asthma and blood pressure medication had been taken as well as his suicide blanket, mattress, t-shirts, and socks. Plaintiff informed Defendant Silva about his missing medication and that he needed his asthma medication to prevent asthma attacks. Defendant Silva told Plaintiff to "deal with it". Plaintiff asked to see the MTA or psych tech but was not seen by either.

Later in the evening, Defendants Wimbly and Williams were conducting count. Plaintiff informed them that he was suicidal. Defendants Wimbly and Williams ignored Plaintiff. Plaintiff then became stressed and suffered from an asthma attack. Plaintiff covered up his cell window with toilet paper to get the attention of medical ward staff. Twenty minutes later, Defendant John Doe appeared and told Plaintiff to cuff up and that they were going to get him some help. Plaintiff was escorted outside then slammed against the concrete wall by Defendants Wimbly, Williams, and Riddle. Defendant John Doe began hitting Plaintiff on the right side of his face and kicking him in the rear. Then ...

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